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Tesla's Musk hints at open-sourcing electric car tech

In shareholder conference comments and while talking to a BBC reporter, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk hints at opening up electric car technology to competitors.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
Tesla Supercharger

Tesla Supercharger
Tesla may offer its Supercharger technology to other automakers, in order to increase the practicality of electric cars on the road. Tesla

As with any hot tech company, people parse the words of Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and impart meaning as if he were the Oracle of Delphi. Now, comments made during a shareholder conference and to a BBC reporter seem to indicate Musk will open up some of Tesla's technology to its competitors.

According to a BBC article, Musk told shareholders Tesla was about to do something concerning its patents to help speed the electric car industry. He hinted to the BBC that it might have to do with giving some of Tesla's technology away.

The intention to boost electric car adoption would be in sync with the original motivation for Tesla in showing that an electric car could be every bit as desirable and practical as a gasoline-fueled car.

The most likely target for Tesla to enhance electric car use would be to make its Supercharger technology available to other automakers. Currently, the Model S uses a proprietary fast-charging technology, which can give the car 170 miles of range in 30 minutes. Tesla's own site shows how its Supercharger stations compare to standard electric car public charging stations.

Other automakers can choose from a variety of standards for fast charging, none of which has taken hold as a universal standard. The lack of a universal standard spells problems for installing public infrastructure to support electric car owners.

The adoption of Tesla's Supercharger technology by other automakers may encourage them to put larger batteries offering longer range in their cars.